• 15 March 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • US-Iran War

10 years later, is Iran replacing Iraq?

“There is no question whatsoever that [blank] is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons — no question whatsoever. And there is no question that once he acquires it, history shifts immediately.”

If you automatically substituted in Iran for the blank here, you certainly cannot be blamed. The “no question about it” confidence and overly alarmist tone that underpins this quote embodies much of the rhetoric proliferated today in regards to Iran’s nuclear program. Furthermore, this quote even comes from perhaps the biggest purveyor of portraying the Iranian nuclear program in such terms, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. However, this is not from a speech Netanyahu made in 2013, but from one in 2002, and the blank here is not Iran, but Saddam Hussein.

On this tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, it is apt to review the frighteningly numerous parallels between the run up to that war and the current standoff with Iran. As the above quote demonstrates, many of the same people who warned so insistently about the “threat” from Iraq ten years ago are now warning just as insistently about the “threat” from Iran. In Netanyahu’s case, he has frequently been caught repeating verbatim the same things he said about Iraq over a decade ago about Iran today.

Given this history of crying wolf, it would seem inconceivable that a huge burden of proof would not be placed on the people (mostly the same people) who now claim imminent peril from an allegedly illicit Iranian nuclear program. As the phrase famously misquoted by former President George W. Bush goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

The sad truth is that we as society have allowed ourselves to be fooled again.

The tactics that were used against Iraq, of taking any lackluster claims based on flimsy or blatantly made-up intelligence and repeating them incessantly, are shamelessly being reused against Iran. The fact that there is no question among nuclear experts, objective analysts, and even U.S. and Israeli intelligence that Iran is not producing nuclear weapons is hardly ever alluded to. In fact, the mainstream media’s frequent parroting of claims made by government officials and blatantly one-sided analysts has been instrumental in setting a discourse on Iran that in many ways is fantasy. The default depiction of the Iranian nuclear program is not as a civilian program that does not even produce uranium at the levels and quantities that building a bomb would require (a thing which if it decided to do, would immediately become apparent to nuclear inspectors), but as a nuclear weapons program always a hair length away from making the bomb. Iran is already guilty, even though the proof suggests otherwise.

All of this misinformation constantly spread by various officials and news outlets has been enormously effective in shaping the public opinion on Iran. According to an April 2012 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 84 percent of Americans believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. It is painfully evident that the failure of officials, media, and the public in the run up to the Iraq War is in many respects happening all over again with Iran.

Hans Blix, the former head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) who led the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq from March 2000 to June 2003 has recently said, “Memories of the failure and tragic mistakes in Iraq are not taken sufficiently seriously. In the case of Iraq, there was an attempt made by some states to eradicate weapons of mass destruction that did not exist, and today there is talk of going [to] Iran to eradicate intentions that may not exist. I hope that will not happen.”

Iraq should serve as an example of the consequences of spinning up a fictional threat over non-existent weapons of mass destruction. However, not only is this by and large not happening, measures now being taken could very well bring about the unfathomable; the U.S. going to war with Iran.

A recent Senate resolution introduced by hawks Robert Menendez and Lindsey Graham says that if Israel “is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States government should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military and economic support to the government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people and existence.” Graham has mentioned that “self defense” in this case include preventive war based on Netanyahu’s redline of Iranian nuclear weapons capability, and not on the official U.S. policy of nuclear weapons possession. This bill will outsource the U.S. decision to go to war to Netanyahu, and, since it can be argued that Iran already had nuclear weapons capability, will essentially make war inevitable.

However, a further disturbing aspect of this bill is that it is co-sponsored by three senators who opposed the Iraq War. Needless to say it is unusual that these Senators, who at the time were wise enough to see through the baseless justifications to go to war with Iraq, are now supporting a resolution which would essentially create a “backdoor” to war with Iran. Perhaps this is a sign of just how dire the situation with Iran has become and how much closer we are to an all out Iraq type scenario unfolding that many think.

Posted By Sina Toossi

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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